Ignore Pete Willsman. The 68 rabbis' open letter about Labour antisemitism was a plea for the party to act

Labour's Pete Willsman said that last year's open letter from 68 rabbis about Jew-hate came from the 'Israeli embassy'. Signatory Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner sets out how it actually came about

May 31, 2019 15:39

Last July, a historic letter was signed by 68 rabbis across the UK Jewish community. It was a united plea from the heart of religious leaders.

On behalf of our tens of thousands of congregants and motivated by concerns of antisemitism in the Labour Party, a crucial British political institution, rabbis came together from across the Jewish and political spectrum. The broad range of involvement was unprecedented.

I am a lifelong Labour member. I chose to sign the letter and lay down the challenge to the party leadership because of the consistent prevalence of cases of antisemitism, and the failure of the party’s leadership to act.

Contrary to the revolting conspiratorial accusations made today by a senior member of the party, the letter came from within Labour, having been convened by the Jewish Labour Movement.

Pete Wilsman is not just a "small pocket" or a fringe marginal tweeter. He was voted onto the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which is, incredibly, charged with responding to antisemitism. He was re-elected AFTER it was exposed he had claimed that Jews were “Trump fanatics”.

The latest conspiracy theory from him was therefore no surprise. It was, however, deeply concerning.

A figure who holds clearly antisemitic conspiratorial views about Jews has sat for the past months on one of the most senior bodies of the Labour Party.

His suspension is only the first step. We need to hear from the Leader of the Opposition clearly that he understands Wilsman’s views are dangerous and wrong, and that it is time for his ally to be thrown off the NEC.

In July last year, 68 rabbis described the actions of the Labour Party’s leadership as “insulting and arrogant.” One year on, the disgrace of being investigated by the EHRC suggests that there has been little improvement.

May 31, 2019 15:39

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